Guptas had no authorisation to use air force base, says SANDF

An airbus at Waterkloof Air Force Base. (Gallo)

An airbus at Waterkloof Air Force Base. (Gallo)

"As far as I know, no permission has been granted to a private citizen to use the base. It is a military base and a national key point used by government and its guests," South African National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said on Tuesday.

The Gupta family, which owns the New Age newspaper and Sahara Computers, will celebrate the wedding of Vega Gupta  (23) to Indian-born Aaskash Jahajgarhia at Sun City, North West, between May 1 and 4.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Gupta family said the authorities had granted permission for a private jet, with family wedding guests on board, to land there.

"The Waterkloof [Air Force Base] was used, as Lanseria airport could not accommodate the size of the jet chartered by the family," Gupta family spokesperson Haranath Ghosh said in a statement.

He said the Indian High Commission, and not the family, applied for and was granted the permission.

Attempts to confirm this with the Indian High Commission in Pretoria were unsuccessful.

Deputy High Commissioner Armstrong Changsan said the High Commissioner was the only one allowed to comment, and he was not available until Monday.

'SANDF knew nothing'
​Eyewitness News reported on Tuesday that private jets were landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base and that blue-light vehicles were escorting guests to Sun City. Dlamini said the SANDF knew nothing about this.

"Let them [Guptas] tell you who they got the permission from and that they show it to you," he said. "If the Gupta family say the commission got the permission, then the commission should be asked who they got it from, if they have such a permission."

Dlamini could not answer why private jets were allowed to land at the air force base if they had no permission to do so.

"What you are asking is just speculation. Ask the Indian High Commission who they got permission from to land," he said. Ghosh said all transport arrangements had been transparently made. "Naturally, suitable protocol was used to receive and transport the foreign ministers to the wedding," he said.

International relations department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said Waterkloof Air Force Base was a military facility and had nothing to do with his department.

"Whoever applied for permission to use the base did it with the SANDF; that had nothing to do with the department," he said. – Sapa

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